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New Releases Spotlight: Week of March 27, 2017

March 28th, 2017

This week in the Music Lounge, our music director Paul Abella reviews three new discs!


I’m back!  Let’s take a look at three new releases from Chicagoan Alexis Lombre, and two of jazz’s modern day superstars, Joey DeFrancesco and Brad Mehldau!


Organist Joey DeFrancesco’s burnin’ new disc is titled Project Freedom, and there’s definitely a theme running through the album with tunes like "A Change is Gonna Come" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing."   Joey D is joined by saxophonist Troy Roberts, guitarist Dan Wilson and drummer Jason Brown.  There’s more than a hint of Larry Young’s influence, especially on "Better Than Yesterday," and as always, Jimmy Smith’s presence can be felt, too.  I think you’re going to find a lot to like here.  I certainly have.


Pianist Brad Mehldau certainly needs no introduction, but mandolinist Chris Thile might.  I’ve been a big fan of Thile since his days in the Progressive Bluegrass band Nickel Creek.  In a trio of excellent players, he stood out, and since then, he’s made some really interesting music, but little (if any) was jazz.  Now, teamed up with Brad Mehldau, the two of them have put out a really interesting two-disc set called…Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau.  There are plenty of vocals here, from both Mehldau and Thile, but it’s the four instrumentals that are worthy of your attention.  Elliot Smith’s "Independence Day" is my favorite of the bunch, but "Tallahassee Junction" and "The Watcher" are equally enthralling.  If your ears are open to some more eclectic sounds, you might really find yourself digging on this one.


Chicago-based pianist/composer Alexis Lombre sounds older than her years.  My first introduction to her was at the Englewood Jazz Festival in 2016, which also functioned as the CD release party for "The Young Masters" disc, Coming of Age.  She wrote a few of the tunes, that were all really good, and she played wonderfully.  Alexis didn’t just “sound good for her age”… she sounded good.  PERIOD.  So, when I found out that she had her own disc on the way, I was excited.  And I gotta tell you, Southside Sounds does not disappoint.  Joined by a who’s who of young players in Chicago – Rajiv Halim and Irvin Pierce (saxophone), Jeremiah Collier and Greg Artry (drums), James Wenzel and Junius Paul (bass) – these are all up-and-coming players that you should check out when you get the chance.  "A Blues in Tyne" is an exciting way to kick off the disc, and the trio feature, "I’m Tired", is just gorgeous.  And hearing "Caravan" get turned into a baaaaad funk jam?  That’s a treat.  Check this one out.  And the next time this one comes on the radio…turn it up!


Next week, we’ll check out new discs from Chicagoans Jeannie Tanner and Typhanie Monique, and we’ll talk about Organissimo’s latest, a tribute to the Beatles.  ‘Til then, keep your ears open!